Six charged in $3.5M government contract fraud

Library and Archives Canada building, in Ottawa, May 15, 2012. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

Library and Archives Canada building, in Ottawa, May 15, 2012. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 AM ET

Three federal bureaucrats and three people at an IT services company conspired to defraud the Canadian government of $3.5 million, the Competition Bureau of Canada said Friday.

The bureau has laid charges of bid-rigging against Microtime Inc., its previous owner John Cassandra, and former employees Stephen Forgie and Linda Graham.

Three former Library and Archives Canada (LAC) employees are charged with "making opportunity for another person to defraud the government."

All three still work for the federal government.

Barney Shum is retired from the public service but now works on contract with Health Canada; Sylvie Beland is a systems chief at Statistics Canada; and Marie-Claude Renaud is an executive lead for the IT services branch at Public Works and Government Services Canada.

The bureau alleges the group engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by coming to a clandestine arrangement over contracts for IT services for LAC between April and September 2009.

"It's a serious crime that eliminates competition among suppliers, it increases costs and it harms the ability to compete," spokesman Phil Norris said.

"Whether this occurs on government projects or in the private sector, these increased costs are ultimately passed on to the public."

Officials were tipped off by someone at LAC, prompting an investigation that began later that year, the bureau said in a statement.

The bureau can grant immunity to someone who informs it of an offence or provides evidence.

Industry Canada records show Microtime has supplied the government with IT services since at least 2004.

Calls to an Ottawa-based IT company called Microtime Inc. were not answered.

--with files from Megan Gillis


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